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Pitman loses game after starting pitcher goes down
Pitman Softball 5
Pitman junior Alexis Mettler is seen pitching just minutes before being struck with an incoming line drive. Mettler would toss 2 1/3 innings and returned to finish the game at left field. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

Things never go well when a player goes down, let alone your ace pitcher. For Pitman High’s softball squad it was a blow they couldn’t recover from when junior Alexis Mettler went down in the middle of the third inning Thursday afternoon.

Pitman was down only 3-2, until a rocky fifth and sixth inning by the defense led to five errors and the 9-2 falter of the Pride in a Central California Conference matchup against first place Merced High.

“This is a momentum sport and when the pitcher goes down however, the girl’s momentum goes up and down because their attitudes change a bit when that sort of thing happens. But we will come back and work hard and win the rest of the league games to position ourselves for playoffs,” Pitman head coach Joe Lewis said.

When these teams squared off two weeks ago, the Pride were shutout 5-0 and added three errors, but this time the Pride came out on fire, as they were the first to score a run in the bottom of the first with two outs on a 2-1 pitch as Skylar Taylor drove in Nicole Bailey on an RBI double that went off the left field backstop.

Pitman’s Liz Segers would reach base on a single and move Taylor into scoring position, but a double steal attempt the next pitch ended the inning when Segers was caught trying to take second.

“We left a lot of girls on base today that we needed to get the runs across, then too many errors. We can’t make errors against a good team it will come back and bite you every time,” Lewis said.

Merced, who has been nearly unstoppable thus far, would retaliate the next half inning after they drove in three runs with one out to go up 3-1.

Then in the top of the third with one out and a runner on first, Mettler was struck by a Megan Kravec’s infield line drive that hit her near the rib cage area. She was able to bring her left arm up to block the expeditious ball, but immediately after she dropped to the ground and was hollering in obvious pain.

“Yeah luckily Alexis [Mettler] took the shot to the non-throwing arm of hers, not the pitching arm, and it hit her in the bicep area of her left arm, which was better than the ribs,” Lewis said about Mettler’s injury.

Mettler’s mom rushed to the mound to aid her daughter as well as the training and coaching staff that helped her off. She would get a standing ovation and returned the next half inning, after Sally Acosta came in for relief duties to end the third.

“When Lexie went out, it seemed like we were unsure how we would do it. Sally did well at first, but we know what happened afterwards. Just hoping Lexie gets back healthy soon,” shortstop Taylor said.

Acosta would finish the game for the Pride tossing up 4 2/3 innings, but six runs would be added on the Merced side while she was on the mound, majority coming by way of errors. Mettler tossed up 2 1/3 and allowed three runs before getting subbed out due to the injury.

Two runners were left in scoring position for the Pride in the second and third innings, which could have potentially tied the game but the inability to hit the ball in critical situations led to their demise, despite cutting the lead to 3-2 after the fourth.

“We missed too many key opportunities when we had runners on base,” Lewis added.

With a 3-2 score, Merced would tack on the fourth run after a critical error with two outs and two runners on, which then led to a three-run rally that made it 6-2 and by then the game had gotten away from the Pride.

“We do need to work on hitting, seems like we have been on one day and then off the next. It’s been inconsistent. It’s what we need to work on — consistency. It seemed like not too many of us were picking it up besides all the mental errors that got to us as well,” Taylor said about her team’s performance.

Pitman’s next game will be at Atwater against the Falcons at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.